Ex-guerrilla elected mayor of Colombia's capital

The leftist Gustavo Petro delivers a speech after being elected new mayor of Bogota, Colombia, on Sunday.

Story highlights

  • Mayor-elect Gustavo Petro was connected with the M-19 guerrilla group
  • He was jailed for two years and later ventured into politics
  • Uruguay and El Salvador also have politicians with histories in rebel groups
  • Petro says voters are "saying yes to reconciliation"
Voters have elected a former guerrilla who became a crusader against political corruption as the new mayor of Colombia's capital.
A military tribunal jailed Gustavo Petro in 1985 for his connections with the M-19 leftist guerrilla group, which was known for high-profile attacks against Colombian authorities -- including a takeover of the nation's Palace of Justice that year, which left dozens dead, including 11 Supreme Court justices.
Petro, 51, is not the first Latin American leader with a guerrilla warrior background. Voters in Uruguay and El Salvador also have elected politicians who were previously involved in rebel groups.
Before winning Bogota's top job Sunday, Petro, trained as an economist and business administrator, had served as a lawmaker, diplomat and presidential candidate.
Speaking to a crowd of cheering supporters Sunday, Petro called his election to Bogota's top post a sign that voters were "saying yes to reconciliation."
He vowed to incorporate ideas of other candidates into his administration -- even former Mayor Enrique Penalosa, who he soundly defeated.
"We are going to try to set up some meetings with the candidates to talk about their programs," he said.
In the political sphere, Petro quickly developing a reputation as a persistent critic of corruption.
As a senator, he led the charge against lawmakers and members of then-President Alvaro Uribe's government, accusing them of connections with paramilitary groups.
In 2010, he came in third place when he ran for president in Colombia.
He takes office as Bogota's mayor on January 1.
He has said building homes for the needy and overhauling the education system will be among his top priorities.